Medicine and the arts and the Joyce-diagnosed STD

On Monday I had the good fortune to meet the editor in chief of Hospital Drive, a literary and arts journal published through the University of Virginia School of Medicine. As a frustrated writer and an infinitely lazy doctor, I was excited to hear about this two-year-old publication. Finally all my thoughts about blood and guts have a place to go.

I love to read authors like the surgeon Atul Gawande and the neurologist Oliver Sacks who inexplicably moonlight in the medical world. But you don’t have to be an MD to explore issues of pain, illness, and the large intestine. Lorrie Moore’s knock-out short story “People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk” (PDF) stands out as one such medical drama written by a non-doctor. How does a mother emotionally orient herself in the last place a mother wants to be – the Pediatric Oncology ward (or “Peed Onk”)?

We need these stories (and novels and poems and essays) that marry literature with the unruly universe of the human body. Otherwise there are only a bunch of doctors poking the uninsured and no one trusts anyone on the other side of the scalpel and the only thing to read in the waiting room is Golf Digest.

Hospital Drive links to more established publications that share its same goals:

Ars Medica is a “biannual literary journal that explores the interface between the arts and healing, and examines what makes medicine an art.”

Bellevue Literary Review welcomes “submissions of previously unpublished works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that touch upon relationships to the human body, illness, health and healing.”

I encourage you to check out some of these publications. You might discover something you didn’t know about human nature. You might also find out if that infected armpit boil has to be lanced. Forget the doctor’s office – short stories will finally diagnose that burning sensation when you pee.

One Thought on “Medicine and the arts and the Joyce-diagnosed STD

  1. Cat Woman on April 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm said:

    Thanks for the link to Hospital Drive, W! Just had a good read about a doc delivering a baby and finding it hard to connect with the dad. Wouldn’t have gotten there without your road map. Love what you do on this blog.

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